Industry Spotlight

Angela Garbacz is on a Mission to Empower Women Through Food

As the owner of Goldenrod Pastries, a bakery run entirely by women in Lincoln, Neb., Chef Angela Garbacz is on a mission to empower young girls across the nation to transform their self-doubt into self-love and to lead each day with confidence and compassion.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in the foodservice industry. How did you go from writing a blog to owning a popular bakery in Lincoln, Nebraska, with an all-female staff?
I started baking professionally when I was 15. I loved being in kitchens—the camaraderie, the family you build. The energy is just so powerful and addictive. I never wanted to leave! After getting degrees in Food and Culinary Sciences, as well as a degree in Classic Pastry Arts, I took a break to work in international marketing at a biotechnology company. After five years there (and really not feeling creatively satisfied) I started a blog to document my journey with dairy-free baking. Within a year of starting my blog, I opened my brick-and-mortar store. I noticed a huge need for inclusive baking in my community, so I started learning how to make gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, paleo, vegan, etc. food. I failed a lot—it was a rocky road—but I wanted to feed the widest group of people possible.

Can you tell us a little more about your all-female staff? Why no guys? Do you think having an all-female staff changes the dynamic in the kitchen?
The all-female staff happened by accident, of course. I woke up one day and realized I was working with all women, and it was the first time I had experienced a really positive environment with all women. I thought, “wow, this is really cool!” I am really open to working with males and don’t care what gender my coworkers are, but so far, it just happens that they have all been women. It’s been a really cool opportunity to experience what it’s like to have such a positive and strong female team. It’s been a good example to show women of all ages that we can support each other and not look at other women as the competition. It has been an eye-opening experience for me and really changed how I look at work and my life as a whole.

What does female empowerment mean to you?
For me, the epitome of female empowerment is giving each other 100% absolute support. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself if your friend gets an awesome new job and you don’t—lift them up, take them out for dinner, celebrate them! Reminding ourselves that we are all stronger together is so important. Practicing that motto and that thought every day is so valuable. Once you do that, I really believe your life will be richer, your community will be stronger, and everyone will find a way to flourish together.

What inspired you to launch Empower Through Flour – an all-female-powered culinary-driven initiative created to raise money for a nonprofit organization called I AM THAT GIRL? Can you tell us about this initiative and the 50-plus female chefs supporting the cause?
Empower Through Flour came about because I wanted to use Goldenrod’s platform to make a statement and a difference, and I knew that I wanted to do something to support women. Empower Through Flour brings together—now over 50!—women in the food industry, from chefs to restaurateurs to influencers, to raise money in support of young women through I AM THAT GIRL. This incredible organization supports local chapters across the country to help instill confidence in and build a community among young women. This is a perfect fit with what Goldenrod stands for, and it has really helped solidify who we are and what we support. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support for Empower Through Flour and by the work that I AM THAT GIRL is doing.

Food & Wine named you one of the “most innovative women in food and drink.” How has this impacted your business?
Wow, so being on that list for Food & Wine was really a game-changer for me—I actually thought the email congratulating me was a scam! Goldenrod has always been special and would’ve been special even without that recognition, but it felt like a real turning point that put Goldenrod on the map. I was so honored and surprised to be on that list with some of the most impressive and inspiring women in the food industry. One of the most surprising and special things about seeing the bakery evolve has been seeing the recognition and press it has brought for Nebraska. I want to show off our community to the world and I want the world to remember how special we are in the center part of the country.

How has Goldenrod Pastries evolved since opening it in 2015? What inspires you and excites you about this industry?
So much has changed! I have a team of about a dozen people I get to work with and create with. We are feeding people, getting to know each other and our customers, and really creating a community that I feel very proud of. I always wanted my bakery to make a difference in our community and to be a meeting point for our city, but it’s very different to see it in action than just to envision it. It’s really beautiful to see our city commune here. We are involved in the most intimate moments of people’s lives and we never take it for granted.

Our menu has grown exponentially—our vegan morning bun selection is huge. I personally love the newest orange morning bun and the swirly peanut butter buns the best. We have a really good handle on gluten-free and dairy-free baking and get to make food for a lot of people to enjoy. I have found a group of people and an environment where I feel like myself, and am loved and appreciated for who I am. Because of that feeling, I am able to extend that energy to people I interact with. The ripple effect has been really special with Goldenrod.

What advice would you give to women just getting started in this industry or who dream of owning their own business but are afraid to move forward or don’t know where to start?
I always tell people to think of the worst-case scenario when they are working on a new business or ideating what they want to do next. Moving forward is really scary, but if you think of the worst-case scenario, you’ll usually realize it isn’t that bad! My worst-case scenario was that my business would fail and I’d have to find a job to pay back my bank loan. Having a job isn’t that bad, so my worst-case scenario felt good! It has been a good exercise for people I have talked with about it. I also tell people to find a way to be productive every day. It is so easy to have an idea of what you want to do, or work on, or where you want to end up … but it’s all too easy to just keep talking about those ideas and not take action. Whether it is a promotion at work or launching a new business, you can always find a way to progress forward, little by little, every day.

Interested in learning more about Angela Garbacz and how you can get involved with Empower Through Flour? Click here for more info.